In May 2023, the newly forming LHOP leaders network in Australia met at Ffald-y-Brenin, West Wales, UK. The purpose was to worship and pray together, encourage one another with testimonies of God’s grace working through current LHOP in Australia and reflect on how we might make this teaching available widely in Australia.
Ann de Leyser, the director for LHOP and Cate Lewis the Australian coordinator commissioned Verity and me to bring this training to WA.
As a pastor and church leader I see this as a wonderful way to enable church communities to look out and discern together what is on god’s heart for their local communites and spheres of influence. Seeking god for what He wants to bless around us has already made a significant impact for us here at St Nics.
If you are interested in finding out more in the first instance look here for an overview. We are working on a bespoke Australian website but this will take you to the international site. if you are interested in bringing this teaching to your church please contact Jamie and Verity via the contact details on this website and will get back to you. Training is free though we would ask for expenses and accommodation to be covered by the hosting church community.
on the first Sunday after Easter, we welcomed our bishop + Ian Coutts to lead us in a service of confirmation, affirmation and reception.
What does that mean? Confirmation is for those who have already been baptised but recognise a desire to confirm that commitment in the context of the Anglican church. Affirmation is for those who have been baptised and confirmed but who have come back to faith after a time of doubt, challenge or ‘wandering!’ It’s an opportunity to reaffirm a renewed commitment to Jesus and His church. Reception is for those who have been formally welcomed into another Christian church but have decided to join the Anglican expression of the church.
It was a delight for us to welcome 8 people in this way ranging in age from 13 to 70+. Jeus continues to call people from every age and stage, every walk of life and it is a joy to us all to share His joy together.
If you are interested to find out more about the Christian faith please register for our next online Alpha beginning on July 18th at 7 pm Western Australia time.
‘Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is the scripture I want to be included and reflected upon at my funeral. Since I have been a Christian, I have had many trials and yet overall, I can testify that I have been consistently and greatly blessed. As I walk with the Lord, I am experiencing a Life of Blessing. This is what God intends for us all. From creation to the revelation to Moses to Jesus to now. Walking with the Lord is a life of blessing.
However, in God’s kingdom, we are asked to take on the priestly role of speaking blessings to the creation and all around us. This is what we are going to be exploring in more detail over this new course ‘A Life of Blessing. ‘ There will be teaching each Sunday and then a follow-up for our growth groups throughout the week.
My expectation is that we can be equipped to change the spiritual landscape around us as we step into this ministry of blessing.
Speaking blessing means first being in tune with what is on God’s heart for the area or person or land that you are a blessing. So, we have to seek Him first in prayer and from that place of intimacy speak out His blessing. This opens up a way for the kingdom to break in. That’s why we begin today with the Gospel ( the Good news) of the Kingdom
May you be blessed as you step into this teaching.
Last Tuesday we farewelled a godly man who walked in the ways of the Lord.
Proverbs 2 was the suggested reading.
My child, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understand; 3yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
I noted that if we humble ourselves in seeking wisdom, we will encounter the Lord, the source of all wisdom. Being in a relationship with God is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus fulfilled this. He embodies wisdom.
The blessing of walking with the Lord is more than simply a blessing in the land. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. If we walk with Him, following His ways we experience new birth and intimate fellowship with Father God in this life. And beyond death, life in a new creation, with Him forever. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Alpha is a great way to explore this and we begin a new course on Zoom on October 12th. Contact us if you would like to join in.
‘Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 120) Pope Francis
St Paul writes;
‘And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us’ Romans 5:5
The connection with missionary zeal and obedient discipleship we see in Acts comes from the Holy Spirit who is poured out into our hearts. And this is not a once only event we need to be filled again and again. Ephesians 5:18. I want to encourage you to be open to being filled again by the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to turn away from anything that may quench or grieve the Holy Spirit and receive the joy of knowing you are loved by the Lord.
“Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you” (#164).
As we receive this truth , as we encounter the very presence of God through His Spirit as we enjoy intimacy with the Father through the Son made known through the Spirit we will become the Good News which is our 5th value here at St Nics.
Let’s celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church of which we are part and let’s be open to receive His love for us poured out through the Holy Spirit
Thy Kingdom Come is all about praying for people to come to know the amazing, life-transforming love of Jesus. We encourage everyone to choose 5 people they know, and pray for them throughout the 11 days and beyond!
There are so many ways you can pray for your 5. You can use a band and tie 5 knots, each one representing one of your 5. Or maybe each time you drink a cup of tea or coffee, you could remember to pray? Here’s a lovely example.
You could write their names on your bathroom mirror, or in this little card, to help remind you to pray throughout the day. Or perhaps you could pray during your daily exercise such as running or walking.
Why not watch this video from The Rt Revd Dr John Sentamu as he encourages us to pray for 5.
Let us know what creative ways you will be using to help you pray for 5!
( This page from https://www.thykingdomcome.global/stories/pray-5)
This Sunday I chose Psalm 46 as part of our readings. Anglican Primate of Australia Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide, referenced this Psalm as he wrote to us all, asking that we join with Christians across the world praying for a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine.
This act of aggression from President Putin has awakened apathetic western democracies into united economic and humanitarian action. There is the shock that the greatest mobilisation of troops in Europe since WWII is occurring. The Ukrainian’s evident courage and commitment to a vision of a self-determined Ukraine led by President Zelensky remind us of the liberties we currently enjoy and take for granted.
The narratives are so different. A vision for a greater Russia safe from encroaching NATO countries or a sovereign nation seeking a democracy akin to Western Europe, not subject to an authoritarian government.
The narratives we tell ourselves shape our actions. That’s why it is so important to grow in understanding God’s narrative revealed through His Son and the scriptures. All history sits within this greater narrative. It is about His kingdom which is advancing across the world. As we are studying Thessalonians it’s clear they responded to Paul’s preaching of the gospel wholeheartedly. They owned this gospel narrative in the face of real persecution.
On Wednesday we marked Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting where we welcome the season of Lent. We receive the mark of the cross on our foreheads, the ashes a sign of repentance, the charge is as follows
‘From dust, you came. To dust, you will return. Repent and believe the gospel. Turn to Christ and be faithful. ‘
Let’s be that faithful church. Let’s continue to pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on the earth as it is in heaven. Let’s pray for the Prince of Peace’s rule to be established increasingly in the hearts of all people.
How are you feeling as we enter 2021 as a church family? Full of hope or rather anxious? However you feel, we know that the Lord is with us and He has gone ahead of us, showing us the way forward into the new year – a year which promises to be full of new learning and new growth.
Lent Programme – Faithful God, Faithful Church
The new school term coincides with the season of Lent, a time when we ask the Lord to reveal to us what is in our hearts and how He wants us to grow more like Him. This Lent, Jamie and I have sensed that the Lord wants us to grow in two fruits of the Spirit in particular – the Fruits of Love and Faithfulness – and growing in these areas will require us to step out in faith.
Have you ever had a Family Meeting?
A time when you gathered as a family to discuss plans, make decisions or try to find solutions to problems? This Lent is going to be a bit like doing St Nic’s Family Business as we ask the Lord to show us what’s really in our hearts – the good, the bad and the ugly – ask Him to pull out some weeds and co-operate with Him in growing more of the fruit of love and faithfulness in our lives. We will be starting our Lenten teaching a little early this year as the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ programme lasts 8 weeks, rather than 6.
At times it will be challenging. We may have to confront our own sin or disappointments – but thanks be to God, thorugh Jesus sacrifice on the cross He has provided free forgiveness and has promised to cleanse us from all sin. At other times we will be challenged to step out in faith in ways we have not done before. And at other times we will just need to keep on doing what we have been doing – what Eugene Peterson called ‘a long obedience in the same direction’. That can be a challenge in itself. Yet the Lord doesn’t ask us to do anything He isn’t already doing for us daily , over and over again – and Jesus is our model. Learning to love and be faithful like Him is going to be a wonderful adventure!
Church membership can be a little bit like a gym membership. We join full of good intentions but we often do not make the most of the opportunities afforded. In order to grow together as a community, we need everyone to be involved wholeheartedly. We recognise that in our framework for the community. We aspire to Bless abundantly, Belong wholeheartedly, Believe increasingly, Behave with integrity and Become Good News. We don’t want to be merely hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word too – and not just a few of us – but all of us!
We would like to encourage everyone who considers St Nic’s to be their spiritual home to do the following:
Attend a Sunday service every week of the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ teaching series, starting on Feb 7th and culminating in Easter Week. The family service will be following the same theme each week as the 8 am service.
If you are unable to attend a service each week, listen to the sermon that you have missed on line.
Do the Faithful God, Faitihful Church Study Notes each week either with a St Nic’s small group, a spouse or a friend. These notes and exercises will be much more productive if done in conversation and prayer with others.
Take time to do the personal reflections and responses each week in order to effect genuine change and/or perseverance in your life.
Does that seem like a tall order? Well the good news is, if you commit to each of these you will have your Lenten Disciplines all worked out for you! And what’s more you will have a family of supporters walking the same path with you, praying and encouraging you along the way. And, if you ‘drop the ball’ one week, just pick yourself up and get back on track, with no judgement or condemnation. We’re in this together – all hopefully trying our best, but none of us yet perfect.
For Parents and Children
An information and activity pack will be available by February 7th so our younger members can put some of our learning into practice too. These will be available on the table in the church building. Please ask Amelia if you would like it emailed to you.
I want to end with the famous words of the Three Musketeers – “All for One and One for All”! Let’s aspire to love and faithfulness that brings that kind of unity among us at St Nic’s!
(Please note the picture above was taken earlier in the year before COVID restrictions applied- it illustrates studying together in groups.)
Last Sunday we completed our teaching on the Armour of God. It’s His armour and He gives it to us.
However, that does not mean we now park it and forget all about it. Armour needs to be put on. We can readily incorporate this in our daily prayer as a helpful spiritual discipline. Combine that with the Lord’s prayer and you have a whole pattern of prayer to draw upon. As we explored at our 10 am service there are significant overlaps. This next three weeks we are following the lectionary and then beginning our series on the ‘God of Joy’ starting October 18th.
Thanks to those of you who have already given us feedback on the Armour of God series. (18 families so far on the 10 experience) along with informal comments along the way. We appreciate all of you taking the time to do this. There were many encouragements and some things to explore further.
If you did not participate in our group bible study written to support the sermon series on the Armour of God, you can ask Amelia via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to explore the teaching more fully our bible studies really are helpful in this. Working through a study with others brings alternate perspectives and insights.
When we think of our community life and learning together, my hope is that we understand our Sunday gatherings are only one part of our discipleship. We encourage as many of you as possible to join a small group as this is where we explore the teaching more fully, build closer links with one another and bless each other. Small groups and congregational gatherings are the two wings of the church. If you cannot commit to a small group, it may be possible to form a triplet. Do talk to me more about this if it interests you. We also need to consider our emerging youth and how we can support them in small groups in the future. Please pray about this with me.
Pray for all our families on holiday. Please uphold Alf, John, and I as we prepare for our diocesan synod. Pray that we will be a diocese that remains in step with the wider Anglican communion and faithful to His word. Remember it’s in prayer that we stand together, in Christ and see His kingdom come.
This Sunday we begin an 8-week series on the Armour of God. Tragically, conflict is part of our world and the scriptures give us a ‘behind the scenes’ explanation and understanding of this. Scripture also tells us how God works to overcome all evil. Genesis 3: 14-15 frames the conflict where enmity is placed between the serpent and the descendent of Adam and Eve. We know this is fully realised in Jesus. (1 Cor 15: 20-21) It is Jesus who reveals the nature of the conflict in more detail and exposes the usurper the devil. Jesus goes on to disarm and expose him (Col 2:15), overrules him (Eph 1: 20-23), masters him (Phil 2: 9-11), and ultimately renders him powerless (Heb 2: 14-15). John declares ‘the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).
The fall that occurs in Genesis is form our position in relationship to God, angels, including the devil and the creation. The fall exposes us to the lies and deceit of satan, his accusations and desire to destroy all that is good. In Christ we regain our standing and God given authority to partner with Him in pressing His victory increasingly on Earth until Jesus’ final triumphant return.
As we looked at last Sunday with the parable of the weeds, there is a reason for the in between period from Jesus’ victory on the cross and the final renewing of the heavens and earth and destruction of all evil. This period is time for people to be restored in relationship to God, born again into his family and enabled to live as His body on Earth. we form a ‘triumph’ for Christ Jesus.
Bible study notes will be made available each week for our groups and anyone else in our community who wants to lay hold of this teaching and apply it. There are of course overlaps with some of the teaching we brought in our ‘Living Free’ course. The most significant thing I have realised in my preparation is the corporate nature of this warfare and that the sphere is primarily in prayer. Paul clearly declared our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’, yet that is how we tend to think. In fact our battle is spiritual and in the heavenly realms. I am looking forward to sharing it with you and pray this will be a further equipping of our community in realising God’s kingdom in us and through us into Australind and beyond. To God be the glory.
Please read through the scriptures I have referenced here. Pray for all of us as we work through this teaching that we would be lay hold of it. If you cannot be with us in person, listen to the teaching online if you can. it is important for us as a community going forward.